I’m living in the gap between two science fiction conventions: Orbital (Eastercon) in London last weekend and P-Con in Dublin this weekend.
Orbital was great: at 1,300 members it was one of the largest Eastercons in the UK for some time. There was an impressive guest list, a fantastic dealers room, and loads of interesting programming events to attend.
As with most conventions there were some issues, but the ones that bothered me were to do with the hotel itself, and not the Orbital staff, whom I found to be organised and very helpful.
From the feedback I received the panels on which I participated went well, and I enjoyed them very much. I attended panels every day of the convention, and most of them were either informative or fun. Occasionally some lagged a little, but the audiences were attentive and if given a chance could keep the ideas flowing.
One of the panels that stood out in my mind was “What Editors Do”. There was a mixture of short form editors with long form editors, which was well moderated, and all the participants were knowledgeable and entertaining. I didn’t check my watch once. I missed all the guest of honour panels, but heard positive reports on all of them.
I went to a panel on “The Lure of Lovecraft”, which I adored because the discussion was sharp and intelligent. China Miéville proved he’s not afraid to pitch his exegesis of Lovecraft’s work and obsessions at a high level. Perhaps I’m alone in this but I like that he doesn’t dumb down his critiques. We’re intelligent people. If we stumble upon a couple of less familiar words or phrases we can look them up afterwards (or perhaps during the event considering the number of PDAs on display). Personally, I think libidinal is an adjective that should feature in texts more often.
Conventions, however, are all about the people. I love the chance to catch up with folks that I only ever meet at conventions: friends, writers, fans, con-runners, etc. It’s also wonderful to engage with new people–as long as you leave yourself open to that experience. It’s easy to settle with the same familiar gang, and sometimes that’s what you want. Other times, it’s great to seek out new people with which to discuss your interests.
I don’t want to list everyone I met at the convention because that would be too time-consuming, and of course there’s the fear of annoying someone by omission. I really enjoyed the company of those who spent time with me, and I hope to meet most of you again at Eastercon LX, or another convention in the future.